Enneagram: Berghoef & Bell Innovations

Leadership. Communication. Teamwork.

Leave a comment

Meeting the Instinctual Needs of Different Organizations

IMG_20150619_213544Working with different organizations is a fascinating study in contrasts. Moving from one group to another, we’ve witnessed focuses and needs that required vastly different approaches.

The Enneagram’s Instincts are a useful model for understanding the priorities and needs of organizations as well as individuals. The Instincts represent unconscious drives, or groups of related behaviors, that seek to get our core needs met. They are a more fundamental part of the way we work than personality type, and can be viewed as an independent mini-typology. People of each personality type can be driven by each of the three Instincts. We share all three, but they are present in individuals and groups to varying degrees, with one running the show and shaping core values.

Different dominant Instincts in organizations call for different approaches. Here are three case studies from our teaching to demonstrate what each Instinct looks like as a dominant focus in organizations, and to share ideas about how to meet the needs of these different types of groups.


A group we worked with recently was dominated by the concerns and energy of the Social Instinct, which is focused on navigating community dynamics. A non-profit that exists to serve the needs of a marginalized community, its team members are a good mix of members of that community and external advocates. When we walked through the door, we saw people milling around, checking in with each other. The room buzzed with talk. It was clear from the way people interacted, before and during our workshop, that inclusion was a priority.

Unsurprisingly for this organization, the workshop we’d been invited to teach focused on communication; it became clear that this group had brought us in to meet Social Instinct needs. We took our cues from the group and focused on creating avenues for engagement. We prioritized group activities that facilitated understanding between members, and left the floor open for lots of questions and discussion.


After working with that lively group, the next one came as a bit of a surprise. This organization was focused on holistic health and wellness, and the physical space reflected that philosophy. Soft colors abounded, and rooms were spacious. Our point person was ready to attend to any physical needs our presentation involved, from tweaking the air conditioning to making sure we had writing supplies. We’d arrived in a headquarters dominated by the Self-Preservation Instinct, which is focused on preserving stability, well-being, and resources.

The people at our workshop seemed as mellow as the space. They were quiet, composed, and moved with deliberation. It soon became clear that they wanted a workshop that matched the organization’s stabilizing values. They prioritized comfort in their space, so we moderated things like temperature and seating, striving to make sure the group was comfortable. In our activities, we focused on mindfulness, giving participants time to relax and ground themselves.

Transmitting / Sexual

Another organization was interested in a growth-oriented workshop. As with the previous group, the environment was beautiful, but in a more attention-grabbing way. Both the space and the people shone with rich colors and decorations, and the group actively sought a non-traditional approach. This organization’s dominant influence is often called the Sexual Instinct in relationships or personal work, as it’s the drive behind reproduction. Transmitting is a more accurate description of this Instinct’s role in organizations, since it drives them to bring information, services, products, or messages into the world.

The group was enthusiastic and honed in on us as speakers. They wanted a workshop that would push them to see themselves more clearly and make changes. Picking up on this Transmitting group’s driven energy, we worked on making our material and delivery fresh and exciting to keep their attention. We brought in innovative approaches and engaged with the group’s focused follow-up questions as they sought to know more.

Think about the groups or teams that you’re a part of. Which Instinct runs the show for each one? What needs and strengths do these dominant Instincts present in the groups you know best?


Finding Wisdom in Your Enneagram Type

Inspiration Village at Wisdom 2.0


This past weekend, Kacie volunteered at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. In an era where mindfulness practices are increasingly utilized in the business and tech world, Wisdom 2.0 provides a platform for like-minded people to connect and strategize around bringing empowered conscientiousness into the workplace. This weekend offered an opportunity to share insights and witness the wisdom we all have to contribute.

We see the Enneagram as a powerful tool to bring greater wisdom into the world – whether it’s in businesses, communities, or ourselves. What the Enneagram shows us is that there are many types of understanding and insight one can have – nine, to be specific! Our own wisdom helps us take action in ways that strengthen our communities, make our workplaces more productive, and deepen our bonds with others. We have the greatest access to the wisdom our type brings to the world, but as multifaceted human beings, we can access the brilliance of all nine types.

Here are a few kinds of wisdom that each Enneagram type has to offer:

Type One brings wisdom through integrity. Healthy Ones are fair and bring justice to the world around them. They become examples of walking your talk. They teach all of us to live honest lives.

Type Two brings wisdom through compassion. Healthy Twos are caring and bring unconditional love for self and others. They become examples of lovingly meeting others’ needs. They teach us how to care for ourselves.

Type Three brings wisdom through authenticity. Healthy Threes are accomplished and bring value to the world around them. They become examples of being your best self. They teach us how to take pride in who we are.

Type Four brings wisdom through self-awareness. Healthy Fours are sensitive and bring creativity to the world. They become examples of expressing your personal truth. They teach us how to cultivate our own voice.

Type Five brings wisdom through understanding. Healthy Fives are non-judgmental and full of open-minded curiosity. They become examples of finding innovative answers. They teach us how to be still in a busy world.

Type Six brings wisdom through guidance. Healthy Sixes are grounded and oriented to a sense of purpose. They become examples of knowing just how to provide support. They teach us how to be our own best advocates.

Type Seven brings wisdom through freedom. Healthy Sevens see limitless options and engage fully in life. They become examples of bringing joy to all facets of life. They teach us how to see the best in everything.

Type Eight brings wisdom through confidence. Healthy Eights are protective and empower others around them. They become examples of living fully without apology. They teach us how to find our internal strength.

Type Nine brings wisdom through acceptance. Healthy Nines are receptive and fully self-possessed. They become examples of living harmoniously. They teach us how to live in a way that is connected to the world around us.

What kind of wisdom do you bring? What’s one action you can take this week to use this wisdom to improve the world around you?


San Francisco Neighborhoods by Enneagram Type

IMG_20141215_173728Enneagram types are not only found in people. They also exist in the spirits of places and cultures. When we traveled to Portugal for the European Enneagram Conference last year, we found ourselves in a somber country of beautiful tiled buildings and fado performances: soulful, melancholy musical laments. We’d arrived in a type Four country. Returning to the much faster paced U.S., we picked up strains of Three (efficiency, racing to the top) and Seven (endless entertainment options). Workplace cultures can likewise embody types, as do cities and communities. Just for fun, we’ve put together an Enneagram tour of the neighborhoods in our home city, San Francisco. Whatever your type, it truly has something for everyone!

Type One – The Financial District. High-reaching architecture and manicured parks frame the orderly Financial District, where every day on the clock, smartly dressed people go to work. This part of the city is where business gets done, and it maintains firm boundaries by closing down on evenings and weekends. It features a selection of ethically sourced restaurants.

Type Two – Noe Valley. Nurturing and family-oriented, there are lots of events for kids, and during the daytime you’ll see numerous parents with young children walking down the street. This neighborhood is attractive and beautifully maintained, while minimizing pretension. Local business on 24th Street take care of residents with frequent discounts and free samples.

Type Three – Pacific Heights. Image is particularly important in this neighborhood full of beautifully restored Victorian homes. This area of the city boasts the highest-end stores and boutiques in the city, and residents are well-dressed and take pride in their accomplishments and appearance. The neighborhood looks and feels good and exudes self-confidence.

Type Four – The Mission. A traditionally Mexican neighborhood, these days it hosts an eclectic group, from its traditional residents to quirky artists to tech employees. This edgy neighborhood values individuality and attracts funky music venues and coffee shops. Murals flourish everywhere. It’s proud of the gritty edge it retains even as the area gentrifies.

Type Five – South of Market (SOMA). San Francisco’s tech sector, which attracts a lot of Fives, is centered in this neighborhood. Originality, innovation, ideas, and a practical way of life rule here. Cloistered among modern apartment buildings and convenient amenities, SOMA residents can remain in a bubble detached from SF’s other communities.

Type Six – Bernal Heights. Highly community oriented, this neighborhood wants input from all its voices. It has a community center, neighborhood watch, and frequent meetings all residents are invited to attend. Residents greet each other as they walk by. Bernal Heights takes care of its own, highly valuing long-term, committed residents.

Type Seven – The Castro. San Francisco’s traditionally gay neighborhood is inclusive and fun for all. Endless bars, clubs, entertainment, and other nightlife stay open late, and it hosts several festivities and street fairs throughout the year. There are fun, quirky shopping options, and residents aren’t afraid to get wild. The atmosphere here is celebratory and exciting.

Type Eight – The Fillmore. Tough and sturdy, San Francisco’s gentrifying historically Black neighborhood requires some street smarts but is protective of both its residents and visitors. Edgy music venues and an annual jazz festival create a loud, festive atmosphere where people come from all over to live large for a little while.

Type Nine – The Outer Sunset. On the outskirts of San Francisco, this neighborhood is slow-paced and laid-back. Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park allow for peaceful communing with nature. A longer ride on public transportation from downtown than some suburbs, it can feel like a beautiful enclave tucked away from the rest of the city.

It can be useful to know the culture and values of the places and communities you move in day to day. Which types’ values are most represented in your country, community, and workplace?